Page images

prescribed, namely, That we should apply ourselves to the knowledge of such things as are best for us, this too is explained at large in the doctrines of the Gospel, where we are taught in several instances to regard those things as curses, which appear as blessings in the eye of the world, and on the contrary, to esteem those things as blessings, which to the generality of mankind appear as curses. Thus in the form which is prescribed to us we only pray for that happiness which is our chief good, and the great end of our existence, when we petition the Supreme Being for the coming of his kingdum, being solicitous for no other temporal 'blessing but our daily sustenance. On the other side, we pray against nothing but Sin, and against Evil in general, leaving it with Omniscience to determine what is really fuch. If we look into the first of Socrates his rules of prayer, in which he recommends the above-mentioned form of the ancient Poet, we find that form not onJy comprehended, but very much improved in the petition, wherein we pray to the Supreme Being that bis Will may be done : which is of the same force with that


form which our Saviour used, when he prayed against the most painful and most ignominious of deaths, Nevertheless not my Will, but thine be done. This comprehensive petition is the most humble, as · well as the most prudent," that can be offered up from the creature to his Creator, as it supposes the Supreme Being wills nothing but what is for our good, and that he knows better than ourselves what is fo.



Advantages of REVELATION above

Natural Reason,

quicquid dignum sapiente bonoque eft.


Eligion may be considered under M two general heads. The first com

prehends what we are to believe, the other what we are to practise. By those things which we are to believe, I mean whatever is revealed to us in the Holy writings, and which we could not have obtained the knowledge of by the light of nature ; by the things which we are to practife, I mean all those duties to which we are directed by reason or natural religion. The first of thefe I shall distinguish by the name of Faith, the fee cond by that of Morality.

If we look into the more ferious part of mankind, we find many who lay so


great a stress upon faith, that they neglect. morality ; and many who build so much upon morality, that they do not pay a due regard to faith. The perfect man should be defective in neither of these particulars, as will be very evident to those who consider the benefits which arise from each of them, and which I shall make the subject of this day's paper.

Notwithstanding this general division of Christian duty into morality and faith, and that they have both their peculiar ex'cellencies, the first has the preeminence

in several respects. : First, Because the greatest part of morality (as I have stated the notion of it) is of a fixt eternal nature, and will endure when faith shall fail, and be loft in conviation. . Secondly, Because a person may be qualified to do greater good to mankind, and become more beneficial to the world, by morality, without faith, than by faith without morality. · Thirdly, because morality gives a greater perfection to human nature, by quieting the mind, moderating the passions, and advancing the happiness of every man in his private capacity.

Fourthly, Fourtbly, Because the rule of morality is much more certain than that of faich, all the civilized nations of the world agreeing in the great points of morality, as much as they differ in those of faith. Fifthly, Because infidelity is not of fo malignant a nature as immorality; or to put the same reason in another light, because it is generally owned, there may be salvation for a virtuous Infidel, (particularly in the case of invincible ignorance) but none for a vicious Believer. :

Sixthly, Because faith seems to draw its principal, if not all its excellency, from the influence it has upon morality; as we shall see more at large, if we consider wherein consists the excellency of faith, or the belief of revealed religion ; and this I think is, . First, In explaining and carrying to greater heights, several points of marality.

Secondly, In furnishing new and stronger motives to inforce the practice of morality.

Thirdly, in giving us more amiable ideas of the Supreme Being, more en


« PreviousContinue »